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As the number of Coronavirus patients mounts by the minute, so does the fear.
Fear and anxiety are insidious emotions which encourage people to behave and react in manners they ordinarily wouldn’t. Especially when faced with extraordinary circumstances like COVID-19.
Things can get worse when social distancing becomes the norm and emotions like empathy, compassion and kindness take a backseat. The thin line between naming, shaming and blaming get blurred.
So the next time you visit your local grocery store without a mask, don’t be surprised by the frowns that greet you. The next time you meet an old friend and try and shake their hand with fondness or out of habit, don’t be surprised if they rudely admonish you. And the next time an ageing family member coughs, don’t be surprised if your natural reaction is to back off instead of showing concern.
Suppose for a minute it’s you who had coronavirus, which if reports are to be believed is highly likely in the near future, would you b alright with being named, blamed and shamed? Medical shaming is one of the traps that we have to avoid falling into in these trying times. It will only encourage people with symptoms to hide out of fear of shame, resulting in fewer cases being detected resulting in an increase in the risk of contracting.
Coronavirus is a pandemic, which means the disease is not a defect, inadequacy or a shortcoming in a patient. But those who are at a high risk of experiencing shame and humiliation or social ostracizing may hide that they have symptoms. Patients often respond to the suffering of shame and humiliation by avoiding the physician and withholding information from people.
Studies have reported that medical shaming at times is used as an attempt to motivate a patient to change their behavior, but more often than not it is out of a blatant disregard or disgust for the patient itself.
When asked how fear can result in shaming, Psychologist, Ann Philipose replied, “When survival is threatened people tend to respond in a plethora of ways. There is an uncertainty with respect to the disease itself and to how long we will have to stay under curfew. This uncertainty leads to anxiety. Anxiety manifests in a variety of ways… Patient shaming is because there is a lack of understanding about the disease and its physiology. Where there is fear we have a flight or fight response. That can get in the way of rational decision and emotions go into an overdrive and therefore we sometimes respond in patient shaming. What would be helpful is to get information from trustworthy sources. Right now we need to stand together and learn from each other and from those who have recovered.”
Take the curious case of Kanika Kapoor who tested positive for the infection; she was named, shamed and blamed. Named and called out, which in turn allowed all those in contact with her, or in secondary contact, to get themselves and their close ones checked for COVID-19 and get treated should the need arise or go into self quarantine.
But it was taken a step further in shaming, shaming for attending a social gatherings and for shamelessly socializing. Lastly the singer was also blamed and booked for negligence with an FIR was lodged against her under Sections IPC 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant),
Kapoor’s friends have taken to Instagram and other social media platforms in her defense. Some like Sonam Kapoor posted, “Hey guys stop blaming @kanik4kapoor, she arrived on the 9th when India wasn’t self isolating but playing Holi. This trial by media needs to STOP.”
Instagram handle TheSwaddle posted that within hours of the singer testing positive for COVID19, “healthcare workers, government officials, and celebrity gossip enthusiasts began ‘contact tracing’ her – tracking her movements public scorn grew as fierce as people speculated that Kapoor must have flouted government directives of public safety and started calling her a ‘criminal'”. The comment goes on to say, that “these behaviours while stemming from the panic that the current pandemic has caused, are creating an atmosphere of stigma and fear that ostracizes people who have contracted the coronavirus. Especially those who might not even know it yet. Stigmatizing illness is just the edge of a dystopian rabbit hole.”
The flip side is that if one cannot identify a carrier then one is left more vulnerable to being exposed to these carriers and thus to catching the infection.
Kim-Lien Nguyen, MD, Assistant Professor of medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a practicing cardiologist, in the article Naming, not shaming – patient privacy restrictions facilitate spread of coronavirus pandemic’, published in ï¿½The Hill’ writes that, “at the core of the coronavirus pandemic is the rapid rate of infection and absence of full disclosure. By keeping the identity of infected patients or exposed individuals secret, the federal government risks escalating the problem to unfathomable magnitude and fueling further paranoia.” It goes on to state that, “Laudable efforts to “flatten the curve” by limiting social interactions are destined to fail if patient privacy is upheld at the cost of the public welfareï¿½ Health officials must recognize that providing a means for disclosure of infected individuals’ status may help curb further spread. Mitigating risks through transparent disclosure is a more effective step than fuelling further anxiety by shrouding the crisis with a cloak of secrecy.”
A heightened awareness of these issues can not only help physicians to diminish the shame experience in their patients, but can also make the lay man aware that nothing positive can be achieved by medical shaming.
Victim blaming has not only snuck into our healthcare systems but also into our psychology. Whether its patients of sexual assault, STDs or even those suffering from mental illness or obesity.
In Shame, stigma and Medicine’, it is stated that, “Shame remains universal-there can be few of us who have not been seared by shame at some stage of our life. In fact, some philosophers argue that shame is inescapable in human experience” It further states that “Stigma is a social, emotional, political and clinical issue of enormous significance-the impact of social exclusion contributes substantially to the burden of illness, perhaps to the extent that in highly stigmatised disorders the suffering brought on by the disease process may be outweighed by the impact of stigma-induced social rejection.”
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In Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ Tanner states, “Yet even I cannot wholly conquer shame. We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”
These are not times about the survival of the fittest, it’s about the survival of being humane and heightened awareness. (IANS)
Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.
Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.
The pond that Sharavanabelagola is named after Image source: wikimedia commons
Since the statue is placed at such a great height, pilgrims are made to make a journey to the top of the hill by foot. They are required to climb the stone steps barefoot as an act of piety and devotion. Palanquins are offered only to senior citizens who wish to worship at the temple.
In 3 B.C, when India was ruled by the Mauryan Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain monk and took up residence in the Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri hills. He is supposedly responsible for the establishment of the temple complex at Shravanabelagola, where he lived till he died. Later on, his grandson, Ashoka made some additional changes to the place.
A shop in the tourist section that sells handmade items Image source: wikimedia commons
Every twelve years, a Mahamastabhisheka is conducted, and Jains from every part congregate to witness it. The statue is washed with water, rice flour, sugarcane juice, saffrom, sandalwood paste, gold, and silver flowers, curd, ghee, milk, and turmeric, and all the monks offer special prayers. The surrounding temples and rocks are preserved as archaeological wonders owing to the 800 edicts and inscriptions found here which span 600 to 1830.
Keywords: Shravanabelagola, Jainism, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Karnataka
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle